Right Wing Populism & the European Worldview Divide

Continuing from where we left off in last week’s post, we’ll look at the breakdown in the worldview divide by country. To recap, as part of our Political Tracker, which we run through EuroPulse, we asked respondents a question created by Stephan Shakespeare and Douglas Rivers at YouGov:

The results showed that Europe as a whole is slightly skewed towards embrace, with 53% choosing embrace and 47% choosing protect. Poland is skewed toward the protect indicator at 55%, 8 percentage points above the EU average. In Spain, however,  70% choose embrace (17 percentage points above the EU average).

Using this survey question to understand the rise of right-wing populism

This survey question shows strong connections between people’s worldview and their affiliation with right-wing populist movements. The Front National (FN) is a stark illustration of how a political party can mobilize from a near unanimous consensus about a certain worldview or mindset. While 54% choose protect at a country level, French FN supporters choose protect at 89%. Similarly, Germany’s right-wing populist party, the AfD, chooses protect at 88%, 37 percentage points above the national average. 81% of Lega Nord voters also choose protect; this is 31 percentage points above the national average in Italy.

*Correction: Partito Democratico is labelled as a Spanish party, but it is an Italian party.

Trump voters fall somewhat behind these numbers, with 76% choosing protect compared to the national average of 49%. Interestingly, only 58% of Brexit voters choose the protect statement, breaking with assumptions that they might follow the same pattern as voters in other populist parties. Brexit voters did, however, still choose the protect statement at 17 percentage points above the UK’s national average.  

What is the takeaway?

This survey question was part of a much larger survey framed with the intention of capturing and understanding the “Trump factor”, or the reasons behind support for right-wing populist movements across the Atlantic. We included multiple fine-tuned and carefully considered questions to measure political and moral attitudes, voting behaviour, income, economic prospects and demographic differences. This polarising worldview question was added in as a wild card. It is confusing even to us that this question seems to provide the largest correlation with populist voters.
To examine those questions deeper, and determine why this worldview question stood out so much, we released our dataset on Kaggle for anyone to download and analyse. If you’re a fellow data explorer, check it out and contribute to our understanding of the ongoing political and social trends in Europe and the United States.

If you’re interested in Election data, check out our Political Tracker. Furthermore, if you fancy posing your questions to Europe, get in contact with us via EuroPulse!

Image by Blandine Le Cain